Heart of the wolf.
Disclaimer: I wish.
Summary: Remus thinks it's more than enough that they help make the transformations easier, but there's something missing, something just below the surface that they can't quite figure out. Sirius is always there. Always. But sometimes he just needs something more.
It was a bit of fun to the others, after they got over the initial shock that always came. He knew they didn't mind - they couldn't mind - but when they all ran up to the Shrieking Shack their eyes still fell back in their heads before they transformed. Before the laughs sunk in.
But he didn't mind, he didn't mind at all. He wasn't aware of it at the time, anyway, when his chest ached and his arms ached and his back ached.
Sirius was the only one who would sit with him when the full moon first hit and even he didn't watch. He never did. He turned with his back facing him, staring at the door and the long passageway past it. And Remus's mind skipped a lot after that.
The Marauder's Map they told him, that's what they were working up to, a map of the whole grounds. James had sounded so excited. Peter had grinned. Sirius, laughing right along and casting small sidelong glances at Remus as he looked uncomfortably back.
It's all they really had.
"We'll see everything on it. Everyone," James said, brandishing a hastily scribbled piece of parchment and a quill spurting ink over his fingers, "It'll be like our legacy or something."
"I thought we weren't going to show anyone?" Peter chirped up and they all exchanged glances, apart from Remus, who curled into the arm of the couch and watched the stars dart around the moon; wishing he could do the same.
"We're not," James smirked and Sirius nudged him, "But people will still know. Especially when they're not supposed to. What do you reckon, Padfoot?"
They all erupted into sparks of conversation, eluding one bit to move hastily onto another and the fire crackled like static in the background. A low buzz passing through Remus's ears and making the ache, just behind his eyes, hum lazily.
"Trip down to the kitchens, boys?" he heard James ask and he shook his head. They understood the best they could, he knew, but sometimes they really just didn't get it. They didn't ask. And Sirius stayed behind with him.
The others back tailed their way through the door and Sirius didn't move to the sofa. He didn't ask if he was okay. He smiled at him and watched the way the scars across his eyebrows and down his neck moved when he breathed. He watched him from under that mess of hair and they both nearly said something but bit back on their tongues, just in case.
"Nice night," Sirius commented idly and Remus knew he didn't mean it. He saw the knuckles brushing against the chair arm and he nodded.
And they didn't need say anymore.
It was harder in the winter and sometimes they didn't all make it. The snow was difficult for Wormtail to manoeuvre and the ice caught Prongs out more than he would ever openly admit to. Padfoot was the one who fell most but he was the one who ran fastest, clinging to Moony's tail and toppling them over and down bank after bank.
For all it only happened once a month, Remus was constantly recovering from it, or waiting for it. And he quite understood how none of them could make sense of it. The first two weeks he spent reeling from the last moon, whilst the next two, dreading the one coming up. It was an endless cycle that left him feeling older than he was and made his head ache when he lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling.
He missed a lot of Astronomy classes for that reason, the moon, hanging like a time bomb amongst all the gases and the planets and the stars. Just out of reach. Evenings made him cautious, made him stay inside, buried between the pages of a book just so he wouldn't be tempted to stare out of the window and wonder.
Sirius always watched him then. Sirius always watched him most times, but he never said a thing.
They were studying the Northern Constellations when Sirius smiled at him, pushing the telescope in his direction and gesturing up. His fingers were curled just below the eye piece and Remus pressed his face against it curiously.
"Up from the moon," he whispered, "Ignore it. Look."
A cluster of stars coiled like dust around its surface and he almost grimaced.
"What am I supposed to be seeing?" he asked and Sirius laughed.
His fingers brushed Remus's chin as he tilted the telescope a little more, they both ignored it, and they pushed themselves further between the lines of the sky to make sure it stayed that way.
"It's me," Sirius smiled, "Magnitude -1.47. Canis Major."
Remus adjusted the eye piece himself and stared.
"Brightest star in the sky. And I'm not just saying that," Sirius continued, leaning right up close so only Remus could hear, "Binary star system. Not singular. But it is a bit magnificent, don't you think? Two clusters joined together. The Dog and The Pup. See the one on the left? The one with the reddish glow?"
Remus nodded. And smiled against the metal smacking his teeth.
"Called the Celestial Wolf in China. Part of the Dog. They're together. Right by the moon," they both paused and Remus's back hunched over stiffening muscles, "Still young. Won't burn out for a long time but the star, it doesn't have normal qualities. Full of elements heavier than helium and emits too much infrared radiation. It's unusual they say."
Sirius trailed off and straightened up to glance at the sky, watching the night enfold itself in a thick black blanket. The wind teasing the edges. But nothing could touch it up there, nothing could touch anything.
Remus let his hand wrap around the bridge of the telescope gently, around Sirius's fingers, before he moved away and smiled up at him, "Bit like you, then," he whispered, shaking his head, "Thank you."
They both watched the shadows of their shoes tapping against the ground.
And they didn't need say anything then, either.
When he went home in the summer, it made it harder. The transformation tore him apart some nights, when he was missing them - when the sun was heavy in the sky and he almost felt like he could get pulled under by that too. He spent most of the time lying on his bed, or slouching down over the worn couch in the living room. He read a book Sirius gave him once, about Werewolves; he said it might make him feel better. So he'd desperately flicked through page after page but all it did was make his heart tighten over the fact it had been Sirius who gave him it.
By the end he only held the slightest grudge against the author. It wasn't full of slurs of hatred like a lot of wizarding books on the subject, but it made it seem better. Made him seem better. Like there was time in between for adventure and excitement and romance and love. It was the one thing he hated most about it, that he couldn't. That he knew he couldn't. Or at the very least he shouldn't and that all he had to look forward to was that in X number of days it would be over until the next time. And the next time. And the next time.
In the summer, he wished he could just be normal and hang out with his friends. Gather at James's house like the rest and go to the beach or into town or just spend all day lazing about in the back garden with nothing on his mind but who he might ask out the next year or what classes he should take. What books he should read.
When he got letters from them, he never replied right away; even the ones from Sirius who, he thought, was closest to understanding any of it. He buried them in the back of his sock drawer until his stomach stopped pulling at him and his fingers stopped nudging against his quill. He'd remember them again in a few days time and read through all the questions, the well wishes, the apologies. He'd write to each one in turn before collapsing on his bed, twisting into himself and wishing he could scream without being overheard.
"I'm staying," Sirius murmured to him one night; one dawn. He didn't know what to say in reply so he just smiled and he felt his muscles tug and his body shake.
He'd been fully prepared to spend Christmas alone that year. James was being called back to spend time with his Grandparents who only visited on rare occasions. Peter, since James wouldn't be there, figured it would be okay to go back just for Christmas day. He'd spent ten full minutes describing his mother's turkey and his father's cranberry sauce. Sirius, he had expected, would go along too. Maybe to James's place. Or even just to hide out in his room at home. Neither had said anything so he didn't expect any more.
He had a bag packed by the edge of the bed. Remus had bit his lip hard and closed his drapes when he saw it. He wasn't expecting this at all.
"You don't have to," Remus replied softly, sitting back against the couch after the lights went out. His face ignited by the glow of the fire and Sirius's wand.
"I know I don't have to," Sirius smiled, edging closer and patting his knee, "But I want to. Besides, not like there's much for me to look forward to at home, is there?" Remus had to agree, "Mother will be all over Regulus. Father will be all over me about being in Gryffindor again. They'll shout over Christmas dinner and the only present I'll get is something from Borgin and Burkes that I'll end up giving to Kreacher just to get rid of."
Sirius's hand didn't move. Remus found himself pressing his leg upwards, inching his toes off the ground until he had to cross his legs to stop them aching.
"It'll be fun anyway," Sirius continued, giving him a squeeze, "Just us. The Lone Marauders."
They both laughed and Remus nodded as he placed his own shaky hand overtop of Sirius's.
"Just us," he agreed with a nod and Sirius's wand light went out. Leaving them sitting in the dark, not daring to move.
It was the night of their last transformation together and Remus was nervous. He stood in the doorway to the shack and glanced at his three friends as if that would, somehow, make time slow down. He wondered what he'd do afterwards. If it would ache like every single summer he spent it alone, or if he'd just get used to it. Get used to it being as lonely as it used to be before he met them.
James and Peter nodded at him briefly before stumbling down the hall to wait outside. Sirius nudged his feet against the floor and glanced up at him. And Remus could see the Moonlight echoing through the sky above his head. Tearing the sun away until there was nothing left but nightmares and dark skies.
"This isn't the last time, you know," Sirius said suddenly and Remus turned to look at him. His eyebrows knit together and he bit his lip.
"How come? We graduate in two weeks, Sirius. I think it is." Remus snipped back and Sirius shook his head.
"You think once we leave, that's it, not going to see others?" Sirius snorted and they both laughed under their breaths, "If anything, your little werewolf problem will keep us together. You know. Make sure we still meet up once a month. All of us. Not like I'll have anything better to do once Mother cuts me off."
Remus didn't know what to say. Sirius obviously didn't either. Their eyes met briefly before they looked away and Sirius had his arms around him tightly.
"I'm going to watch this time," he whispered, "I'm going to watch and you're going to see me watching. And you'll know I'm here, just in case. Okay?"
Remus clung a bit tighter to him. Nails pressed against shirts. Against hips. And, though he barely dared admit it, ever so gently against hearts. And his pulse raced in his head.
"Okay," he quipped, "Okay."
And the moon had never looked so beautiful.
"What -- what did you do that for?" Remus gasped. He was cradled up against the wall, the morning after, to the thinning rays of sun signalling dawn. A thick blanket hung around his shoulders and Sirius had just kissed him. Well. Almost kissed him.
He'd pulled a bar of chocolate from his backpack, as usual, wrapped hastily in tin foil that sounded like crackling television signals when he pulled it back. Remus had watched as he idly tore pieces apart. As he lined them up and clicked his teeth together in concentration.
He picked up a corner piece and pressed it to Remus's lips, his own following closely behind it and Remus's muscles had stiffened against the hard wood and the splinters and the skin.
"No reason," Sirius shrugged with a grin and popped a piece of chocolate in his mouth before looking at him, "Thought you could do with cheering up."
"And a joke wouldn't have worked?" Remus hissed, although the anger only bubbled against the surface, tangling against his tongue and setting his eyes ablaze, "A funny story?"
Sirius only shrugged again and shook his head before leaning in and kissing him once more. Remus's lips pressed into a thin, wary line. And Sirius didn't stop. He pressed the dry cracks, the chapped edges, the damp flicker of tongue, pressed it all like fingerprints against Remus's and he couldn't breathe or think or push him away. He nudged a hand up against Sirius's chest, halfway between shoving him hard and fisting in his shirt to drag him closer.
They're together, he thought, as everything that was just -- just Sirius -- flooded into his head at once, suffocating him, drowning him, They're together. The wolf and the dog. Right by the moon.
And that's when he kissed him back.
"End of an era," James bellowed, as they walked down the hills one last time, around the edges of the Black Lake, "Who knows what'll become of us. Grow up? Get sensible jobs? Can you imagine it?"
Remus shook his head, "It's a bit hard to picture you turning up in dress robes," he muttered and Sirius clapped him on the back with a bark of laughter.
Peter ran along behind them, trying to catch up, nudging Sirius out of the way and falling into step beside James.
Sirius started smirking first, glancing around at the empty grounds and the silence hitting the back of his throat. He shoved James's shoulder and their eyes met before they tapped Pete's shoulder too, and finally Remus.
"One last time?" James grinned.
"One last time." Sirius agreed and Peter nodded along.
Remus's smile curved the corners of his mouth up into his eyes and he watched as a big black dog ran off into the distance, jumping up fiercely to wrestle the side of a stag to the ground. A little rat tottered along behind them, not quite there, but they waited.
Remus followed behind before sitting down at the lake's edge, shaking his head as Prongs pushed Padfoot in and he shook his thick fur all over him as he bounded back out.
He stared up at the dimming sun as shadows followed them down to the forest, and he smiled.